[Extract] The current debates about the ethics of torture are replete with fictions and abstract generalizations. In this essay, I consider the category of “interrogational torture” and show how its use cannot withstand empirical scrutiny. Consequently,it is of no value in helping us ascertain the real-world possibilities and consequences of torture, nor can it help us assess whether state or non-state agents might be justified in using it. Interrogational torture, as Bob Brecher asserts, is a fantasy whose role in justifying torture is grotesque. In a discussion of the nature of explanation in history and the social sciences,Geoffrey Hawthorn warns of the dangers of abstraction and generalization.